The city of Palmhurst held this year’s National Night Out with a drive-thru-style celebration.
On Tues. Oct. 20, 2020, Palmhurst held their ninth annual National Night Out at the Church of Christ. The event, usually conducted with large festivities and carnival rides, had to take a different approach that kept safety and social distancing in mind.
Though making the National Night Out a drive-thru was a bit challenging, Palmhurst felt the need to let the community know they still have support from the city and local police departments.
“We’re just trying to minimize the exposure [of COVID-19],” Palmhurst PD Public Information Officer Valerio Cantu said on why they chose a drive-thru method. “We’re trying to bridge that gap.”
Typically, about 14 police departments participate in Palmhurst’s National Night Out. This year, agencies from Precinct 3 like the city of Alton, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, Constable Larry Gallardo and the Texas Department of Public Safety joined the Palmhurst Police Department from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Restrictions were made to align with local county and Centers for Disease Control guidelines of social distancing, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. When officers gave out their gifts, they wore masks and gloves.
The city distributed 400 packs of school supplies, masks, hand sanitizer and Halloween treats to vehicles as they made their way through the Church of Christ parking lot. The event also included a meal, as 400 freshly-barbecued burgers were prepared and distributed.
“When you have parents having to do homework with kids, they don’t always have everything accessible,” Palmhurst City Manager Lori Lopez said. “We just want to give back and help with every little bit. If the school districts and teachers and educators are doing their part, it’s also the city’s responsibility to uphold our end of the deal. It takes a community to raise a family, and if everyone does their part it goes a long way with the kids.”
Lopez noted that their goal was to keep the spirit of the event going as a means of support to families and the youth of the community who need it now more than ever.
“The youth, the kids are the ones having the toughest time right now with homeschooling and so forth,” Lopez said. “We wanted to try and keep it as safe as possible and make every effort.”
Though the main lobby of the Palmhurst City Hall is closed to the public for safety, they have waived online fees for bills so residents don’t have to worry about the additional stress of added expenditures. Lopez was glad to see several entities help with the event through the pandemic.
“It’s a tough call for everyone to make, but at the end of it everyone has the students at heart,” Lopez said. “That’s who we’re trying to serve – the youth. We get caught up in the day-to-day city operations, that’s really easy to do, but we need to stop and reflect on what matters the most.”
Palmhurst Police Chief Michael Vela was unable to attend the annual event due to an emergency, but Lopez said his heart and spirit were with them and the city is proud to have him as their chief of police. She also praised the city’s maintenance department for consistently setting up great events.
Lopez wanted to thank the Church of Christ, law enforcement agencies who participated, city staff and the Mission Consolidated Independent School District for making the event a success.
“It was an overall effort between the city, law enforcement, the church, and the school district,” Lopez said. “When you have all these agencies coming together, it’s important for families and students to know everybody’s there to do their part.”
The National Night Out is a nationwide celebration intended to foster good community relations between law enforcement officers and members of the public. Lopez hopes that this year’s event highlights that their police are always available for support from any and all residents.
“There’s always somebody they can connect with,” Lopez said. “Our police department does a really good job when it comes to outreach with our youth, and we’ve always been active at the schools. Now more than ever with COVID-19 going on, the kids need to know who they can reach out to.”